Saturday, 20 September 2014

Chernobyl Diaries (2012) - Decent Thriller

I nearly went to see this horror in the cinema as I thought it looked different to any other horror/thriller. After watching it, I was fairly impressed with it. I wouldn't say I thought it was amazing, but I would certainly disagree with anyone who thought it was absolutely terrible. Take a look at some online ratings:-

  • IMDB - 5/10
  • Metacritic - 32%
  • Rotten Tomatoes - 19%
I mean come on, Rotten Tomatoes giving it 19%? Being completely serious, I have no idea what was really wrong with the film? Rotten Tomatoes seem to have completely slaughtered the movie, but you could say they are very strict with their reviews. On the contrary, I really enjoyed this horror and thought it was something different. It reminded me of I Am Legend (2007), which I absolutely loved as it has the same sort of concept. Whilst I didn't think there was anything special at all in Chernobyl Diaries, I couldn't see much wrong with it.

The film unfortunately has a small run time - 88 mins - which is one of its major let downs for me, and is also directed by Bradley Parker. It revolves around Americans Chris (Jesse McCartney), his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and their friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) who all travel to Europe on vacation. They meet up with Chris' brother Paul (Jonathon Sadowski) living in Kiev, Ukraine. Chris wants to travel to Moscow to propose to Natalie, but Paul convinces the group to first visit Chernobyl with an extreme tourism guide. They meet the guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) and another couple who are also going on the tour. Uri explains that because of the radiation levels he can only take them to Pripyat, a deserted city very near Chernobyl. They travel by van, but are stopped by a military checkpoint that makes them turn back. Not giving up, Uri finds an alternative route to the town. The group spends the day taking photographs and exploring abandoned buildings. Uri becomes nervous and decides it's time to head home. However, the van won't start and they discover the engine was sabotaged. Soon they discover that they are stranded, no one knows they are there and that they are definitely not alone.

Similarly to My Bloody Valentine (2009), I thought the location of Pripyat was very impressive - an abandoned small city near Chernobyl, where most of the action happens. There is a very promising start to the film once they reach the city of Pripyat, as the car faults and they cannot make their way back home. I thought the idea of the wild dogs killing Uri was pretty well thought, as the tourists had no chance of returning home since they had no idea of how to get home. In addition, the actual inhabitants of what we thought was this 'deserted village' are pretty damn freaky which certainly reminded me of I Am Legend. I loved the scene where the remaining tourists turned around to see tons of the inhabitants slowly walking towards them and liked how the film almost became an action thriller as there was more violence and action involved. In general, I thought the film was very frightening at several points.

Aside the best features of the film, there were only a few key features that let me down. One major issue was the time. The film only lasted 88 minutes, which I was unhappy with as I usually watch more films with longer run times. I also feel there could have been an extra night added in Pripyat. Another weak point was the rate of expectancy. There were a lot of elements within the film that were completely expected to be coming in my opinion, and this led to basically the entire film being very predictable.

Although I have mentioned a few weaknesses inside the Chernobyl Diaries experience, I must admit the positives outweigh the negatives. For a modern horror, this was a decent film and apart from the timing and expectancy, I wouldn't criticise this further. However talking about expectancy, the ending was not predictable at all! (SPOILER ALERT) I genuinely thought that Amanda would have survived in the end! However, I thought the ending was appropriate in concluding the film and I would be very surprised if there was a sequel to this. It was a decent film guys, worth a watch.

Overall Rating - 6.3/10

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